Now that I have your attention, allow me to alert you to an interesting op-ed from Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. In the piece, which was published last week, Kristof discusses a newly-published book, The Righteous Mind, written by psychology professor Jonathan Haidt. The book offers some fascinating insights into the very real differences between the psychology of liberalism and that of conservatism, and refers to some rather surprising research findings:
Some research suggests that conservatives are particularly attuned to threats, with a greater startle reflex when they hear loud noises. Conservatives also secrete more skin moisture when they see disgusting images, such as a person eating worms. Liberals feel disgust, too, but a bit less.
Anything that prods us to think of disgust or cleanliness also seems to have at least a temporary effect on our politics. It pushes our sanctity buttons and makes us more conservative.
A University of Toronto study found that if people were asked to wash their hands with soap and water before filling out a questionnaire, they become more moralistic about issues like drug use and pornography. Researchers found that interviewees on Stanford’s campus offered harsher, more moralistic views after “fart spray” had been released in the area.
At Cornell University, students answered questions in more conservative ways when they were simply near a hand sanitizer station.
The smell of flatulence can make a person more conservative, at least temporarily. Who knew? I don’t know about you, but I wish the converse would also be true. Just think: a couple bottles of Febreeze could turn the Values Voter Summit into a Pride parade!